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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, July 1, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

Suh disappointed with Landis outcome

Attorney Maurice Suh
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

Floyd Landis' defence lawyer Maurice Suh has said he's disappointed with the outcome of his clients Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) appeal. CAS announced yesterday that it had ruled against the USA cyclist, which will see his original ban to January 30, 2009 stand and him pay $100,000 USD in legal costs to the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

"We are very disappointed in the result," Suh told Cyclingnews. "The evidence strongly supports Floyd's innocence. We maintain that the French laboratory's work violated proper procedures and that these violations were not simply technical in nature. They resulted in the inaccurate findings at the heart of this case."

Switzerland-based CAS panel said it concluded from the evidence presented that the "presence of exogenous testosterone or its precursors or metabolites in Floyd Landis' sample proved that he violated the anti-doping rules of the UCI [International Cycling Union]." A statement released by the organisation said the laboratory at the centre of Landis' case "benefits from the presumption that it conducted sample analysis in accordance with international laboratory standards."

"CAS's decision, which does not give credence to these violations, does little to require that laboratories and anti-doing agencies are held to the same high standards as are athletes," added Gibson Dunn partner Suh.

While the CAS finding exhausts Landis' appeal options within the sporting arena, Landis said he would be investigating his legal options following the announcement. If Landis chose to continue his pursuit of the matter, he is able to appeal CAS' decision with the Swiss Federal Court or commence civil suits against the parties involved with the case.

CAS delivers final blow to Landis legal challenge

Floyd Landis has lost all hope of being reinstated as the 2006 Tour de France champion.
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Nearly two years after he stood triumphantly atop the Tour de France podium in Paris, USA's Floyd Landis has seen his last hopes of regaining the 2006 title dashed when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld his two-year suspension on Monday. The world's highest sporting authority also ruled that the 32 year-old pay $100,000 costs to the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), in a case that has already cost both Landis and his opponents several million dollars. Cyclingnews' North American Editor Mark Zalewski takes a closer look at the panel's decision.

While the original arbitration ruling by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) was a split decision, including a clear wag of the finger towards the French national anti-doping laboratory (LNDD) in Paris, this ruling is a clear 3-0 home-run for the US Anti-Doping Agency. All arguments levied by Landis were countered by USADA in the panel's mind, with the panel even going so far as to wag its own finger at the legal strategy used by the Landis side.

The science

The actual appeal process began with a determination of the grounds of the appeal. The USADA lawyers first filed a motion to exclude any new arguments from the case beyond what was presented in the original arbitration, and the CAS agreed. On the Landis side, the CAS ruled against USADA in its attempts to move the start date of his suspension later than January 30, 2007. But it also did not agree with Landis that his September 20, 2006 date, the day he was sacked from his Phonak team, should serve as the start date either.

The CAS requested a list from both sides that would outline the issues of the case. The Landis side provided 17 separate issues, attacking the entire testing procedure of the French laboratory – but essentially asking whether "USADA had established to a comfortable satisfaction that Floyd Landis committed and anti-doping violation".

To read the full feature, click here.

Valverde to lead Caisse d'Epargne

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

Caisse d'Epargne has confirmed it will rely on recently crowned Spanish champion Alejandro Valverde to lead the team to a possible victory in the Tour de France starting on July 5. Along with Valverde the team will bring the only former winner to the start this year's event Oscar Pereiro.

Valverde was sixth overall in last year's Tour, more than 11 minutes behind winner and fellow countryman Alberto Contador, who was then riding for Discovery Channel. The Astana rider was surprisingly nowhere to be seen at the recent Spanish championships, but last month claimed his second Grand Tour victory at the Giro d'Italia in Italy.

Valverde has shown that he is on form for the race after a dominant performance at the 60th Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, a race considered as a key indicator for Tour form. The Spaniard won the race by 39 seconds over the number one favourite for this year's Tour, Cadel Evans of Team Silence-Lotto. Valverde's win in the Spanish title over the weekend once again confirmed that he has prepared perfectly for the French race.

The rider said earlier this month that he feels he's ready to lead his squad at the Tour. "I think that I have now gained the necessary maturity for confronting a three-week race," he said. "I will race the Tour thinking of the podium, why not? But we also have to take into account some very important rivals."

Caisse d'Epargne's Tour roster is made up of seven Spanish riders, Alejandro Valverde, David Arroyo, José Vicente Garcia, Iván Gutiérrez, David López García, Oscar Pereiro, Luis León Sánchez. Two French riders, Nicolas Portal and Arnaud Coyot make up the rest of the team that will start in Brest.

Evans to wear number one in Tour

Australian Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Widely touted as the man to beat at this year's Tour de France, Cadel Evans will also start the Grant Tour this Saturday with the number one start number. The 31 year-old Australian from Silence-Lotto was second in last year's Tour behind Alberto Contador, who rode for Discovery Channel at the time and will not start this year's event.

Number one was not used during last year's event as the doping case against Floyd Landis meant that the official win was still under dispute. Since then Caisse d'Epargne's Oscar Pereiro has been declared the winner of the 2006 edition and will be the only previous winner to start this year's race (see separate story).

With defending champion Contador not start this year's event, Evans' has been given the number one starting spot. Contador's Astana team was not invited to this year's Tour after the squad, under different management, was thrown out of last year's event following the positive sample recorded by Alexander Vinokourov.

The three week Grand Tour commences this Saturday in Brest, France. For more coverage of the 2008 Tour de France, see Cyclingnews' race section.

Vinokourov denies comeback claims

Kazakhstan's Alexander Vinokourov
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Fallen Kazakh cycling star Alexander Vinokourov has denied claims that he is preparing to make a comeback to professional cycling. Vinokourov explained to Belgian news outlet HLN that he has had enough of professional cycling and would no like to have a successful business career.

The 34 year-old was suspended from cycling after testing positive to blood doping in a routine doping test after winning the time trial in last year's Tour de France. The positive control led to his squad being asked to leave the race and to organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) not inviting the squad to contest this year's event – despite being under new management.

"Dope tests, the Tour, cycling in general... I don't want to talk about that any longer," Vinokourov explained.

The 2006 Vuelta a España champion was fired by his Astana team after the doping test. Vinokourov has always denied he used blood doping and received only a light sentence of just one year, which will finish on July 21 this year.

Vinokourov has no more contact with his former rivals. The rider, who Kazakhstan's government had hoped would bring glory to the nation, has been shunned by his former competitors following last July's drama.

"They do not want to know me anymore," he explained. "The cycling world has been seriously ill for two or three years already. But I do not want to think about that anymore. I was simply a scapegoat."

Vinokourov laughed off rumours of a comeback and says he wants to do business in France, where he lives. Vinokourov says that he wants to continue being active, but will concentrate on "triathlon, but purely as a hobby" but he does want to open a training centre for top athletes in Grasse.

"I have bought a hotel and am now awaiting the authorisation to carry out conversions and a football field to be set," he said.

Longo to seventh Olympic Games

Jeannie Longo
Photo ©: Fabrice Lambert
(Click for larger image)

Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo has been selected for the French team to contest the Olympic Games in Beijing, China from August 8 - 24. It will be the seventh Olympic Games for the 49 year-old, who continued to amaze at the weekend when she claimed yet another French road and time trial title.

Women's cycling appeared for the first time on the Olympic program in 1984, which was also Longo's first appearance. In 1996 Longo, who has contested every Olympics since the women's introduction in 1984, won gold in the road race at Atlanta, Georgia in the United States of America in 1996.

Longo is the most successful women's cyclist of all time. During her career she has won 13 world titles, as well as four Olympic Games medals; with silver medals in the 1992 Barcelona, Spain road race and 1996 time trial, a bronze in the Sydney, Australia Olympic Games time trail in 2000 joining her gold from Atlanta.

Tragic death mars London to Paris ride

By Jeff Jones,

An amateur rider taking part in last weekend's 600km London Paris Cycle Tour has died after sustaining serious head injuries in a collision with a motorcycle. On Friday, June 27, the second day of the event marketed as 'the professional event for amateurs,' Andy D'Agata, 44 years old from Surrey, fell into the path of one of the motorcycle outriders supporting the event. As yet unconfirmed reports from fellow cyclists suggest that Mr. D'Agata slid on a patch of diesel towards the end of the stage from Calais to Amiens. The motorcyclist had little chance of avoiding the stricken rider.

Paramedics were quickly on the scene and Mr. D'Agata was airlifted to hospital in Lille. Sadly, despite around the clock care, he was unable to recover and died from his injuries on Saturday, June 28. Mr. D'Agata was riding in the lead group that was taking part in the event's race, although it is understood that the accident occurred once racing had ceased. The event continued following the accident, although the competition element was cancelled.

In a statement on the event website organiser Sven Thiele said: "The condolences of the L2P organisers, tour staff and all participating riders are extended to the family at this sad time. All concerned in the organisation of L2P will continue to assist the authorities in all matters related to this tragic accident."

Cycling Plus editor Rob Spedding was riding the event in a group ahead of Mr. D'Agata at the time of the accident. "Everybody involved with this year's L2P is devastated by Andy's death and our thoughts are with his family," he said. "Cycling on the road, especially in large groups, can never be completely free of risk but from what I experienced on the road the organisers did their utmost to ensure the safety of all of the riders taking part."

Foreigners lead NRC standings

Riders from outside of the United States of America hold both the men's and women's National Racing Calendar leads as the year reaches its half-way point. With 17 men's races and 19 women's events on the 2008 NRC now complete, Australia's Rory Sutherland (HealthNet-Maxxis) continues to hold a commanding lead in the overall individual standings on the men's side while Canada's Anne Samplonius (Cheerwine) is the current women's leader.

The efforts by Sutherland and Samplonius have a bearing on the team's standings as well, with Health Net Pro Cycling Team presented by Maxxis leading in the men's rankings and the Cheerwine Professional Cycling Team at the top of the women's tables.

Men's Individual Standings
1 Rory Sutherland (AUS) HealthNet-Maxxis           1396
2 Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell                  643
3 Ted King (USA) Bissell                            622
4 Anthony Colby (USA) Colavita-Sutter Home          501
5 John Murphy (USA) HealthNet-Maxxis                499

Men's Team Standings
1 HealthNet-Maxxis                                 2631
2 Bissell Pro Cycling Team                         1984
3 Colavita/Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light           1756
4 Toyota-United                                    1520
5                     1271 

Women's Individual Standings
1 Anne Samplonius (Can) Cheerwine                   805
2 Joanne Kiesanowski (Nzl) Team Tibco               770
3 Leigh Hobson (Can) Cheerwine                      765
4 Laura Van Gilder (USA) Cheerwine                  757
5 Tina Pic (USA) Colavita-Sutter Home               747

Women's Team Standings
1 Cheerwine Professional Cycling Team              3331
2 Aaron's Cycling Team                             2316
3 Colavita/Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light           1954
4 Team Tibco                                       1920
5 Valuact Capitol Cycling Team                     1148

Teenage mountain biker mauled by bear

By Mark Appleton,

A teenaged girl competing in a 24-hour mountain bike event near Anchorage, Alaska has been critically injured in a bear attack. The animal, believed to have been a female Grizzly, struck in darkness at around 1.30am in the town's Bicentennial Park yesterday morning, leaving the un-named victim with bite injuries to her head, torso and thigh as well as a "sucking chest wound." The latter typically occurs when an object penetrates the body and punctures the lung cavity.

Medics, accompanied by shotgun-carrying police officers, entered the park to retrieve the rider. According to the Alaska Daily News, she was found by Peter Basinger, a fellow competitor on the Arctic Bicycle Club event which began at noon local time on Saturday, using an 8 mile loop of groomed trails. Basinger is said to have waited with the girl until rescuers trekked the half mile into the forested park to reach them before she was stretchered back to a waiting ambulance.

The teen, who according to some reports is just 14 years-old, underwent surgery at the Providence Alaska Medical Center and is expected to survive according a spokeswoman for the Anchorage Fire Department.

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